Are emulators and ROMs a Gamer’s Moral Obligation, or is it a Pirate’s Legal Grey Area?

The gaming community is undecided on the morality of emulators. Some gamers believe that it’s our responsibility to make emulators and ROMs of games available for future generations, while others think this is piracy and unofficial ROMs and emulators should be banned.

Emulators and ROMs

As recent as Konami pulling the plug on the Silent Hill game, games like P.T are no longer available; although playthroughs and ROMs created by some gamers may still exist. This is an example of a how a game could be lost to time unless companies allow it to stay accessible. For instance, Nintendo sends cease and desist letters to any site hosting their property without permission– making it difficult for people to play hosted versions of their games.

It’s not unusual for them to keep games that have become popular after the console on which they were originally developed. Sure, Super Mario Bros has been emulated for nearly every system since the original Nintendo, but that’s an uncommon exception to the entire catalogue Nintendo has built over the decades. They are now releasing content for the Nintendo and Super Nintendo consoles onto the Switch, but what about GameCube, Wii, and Wii U? We’ll be well into next-generation gaming before we see any more emulator releases from Nintendo.

Why wait for the companies to release these games again when ROMs and emulators are available if you already own the game on a previous system and want to play it on a new console or PC? There is some grey area. If you own the game physically, you’re probably going to emulate it or have a ROM of it. However, there’s no case in which any firm has gone to court over emulators or ROMs.

With that being said, not everyone – particularly those who aren’t as technically savvy – can create their own ROMs and emulators for games. That’s where third-party download sites come in to fill the need. Just be mindful that owning and using emulators and ROMs for games you already own may be legally defensible, yet it might be deemed illegal to distribute these (for instance, downloa or uploading them for others to download) in your country. So before downloading any software, make sure you research your local laws first.

If you bring up the subject of cryptocurrency, be careful. Downloading an emulator from a third-party website is a wonderful thing to have, but it also has some dangers attached to it. Take precautions to safeguard your rig from viruses and malware while downloading any software. Make sure you’re not giving more permissions or access than is required when downloading any programs. Uncheck any boxes that allow the downloader to add a third-party search bar or extra applications, and always scan new software for viruses before running it.